by Mike Schmidt, Senior Manager, Vehicle Testing on November 4, 2016
The 2016 Toyota Mirai was the first fuel-cell-powered electric vehicle available for public sale in North America. It is only available in California, and at the beginning of our test there were just over 10 fueling locations. It was not only an important test for Toyota but also for the viability of hydrogen as a gasoline alternative.
We did not have to put much thought into how to equip our Mirai. The sedan was available in just one trim, fully loaded. The standard equipment list included leather seating, heated everything, blind-spot monitoring, an Entune infotainment system and more. The MSRP was $58,335.
There was plenty of bait to entice buyers, including a $7,500 Toyota "Trailblazer Purchase Support" incentive, a $8,000 federal tax credit and a $5,000 California rebate. On top of all that, every Mirai had access to carpool lanes and a complimentary hydrogen fuel card for the first three years of ownership.
What would hydrogen cost us when the three free years ran out? Is hydrogen a feasible alternative to battery-electric vehicles? How realistic is the 312-mile range projection? These were some of the questions in mind when our six-month test of the 2016 Toyota Mirai began. Here's what we found out:
by Michael Massey, Vehicle Testing Assistant on November 2, 2016
I popped the trunk on our 2016 Toyota Mirai for the first time before driving three friends to a reality-show dinner party. What I saw concerned me. There's a bump in the cargo floor due to the rear hydrogen tank and battery, which are stacked on top of each other.
It didn't look like there was much space left over.
by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on October 26, 2016
In a hurry to get to the pharmacy before they closed, I hopped in the 2016 Toyota Mirai, hit the power button and looked for the electronic parking brake release button.
I quickly searched the center console. Nothing. I looked to the left of the steering wheel. Nothing.
"No way this thing has a manual foot-pedal parking brake," I thought, glancing down at the left side of the footwell. Again nothing.
Now feeling extreme gotta-make-the-pharmacy pressure, I resorted to exiting the Mirai, taking a deep breath, and getting back inside to look again.
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on September 30, 2016
For the return voyage on our alt-fuel road trip from Santa Monica to Lake Tahoe, Dan Edmunds and I switch cars. This time, I'll be in our long-term 2016 Toyota Mirai and he'll take the 2016 Tesla Model X.
There's a wrinkle, though.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on September 28, 2016
It's 7:05 am as Jay and I climb aboard our mounts and back out of our respective parking spaces. At 7:07 am we're lined up outside the building, waiting for the first traffic signal of the trip to turn green. I'm piloting the 2016 Toyota Mirai and Jay is behind the wheel of our 2016 Tesla Model X. Both cars are filled with their respective fuels and headed for an eventual rendezvous at the Basecamp Hotel in South Lake Tahoe.
We merge onto the 405 freeway and maneuver ourselves to the carpool lane. For now we're queued up line astern, but we're bound to lose sight of each other once we reach a predetermined photo-op point on the outskirts of the LA Basin and start running at whatever speed each of us deems most prudent.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on September 26, 2016
As far as road-tripping is concerned, our 2016 Toyota Mirai can only go where there are hydrogen filling stations. I recently described a clump of them in the LA basin and another cluster that serves the San Francisco area. There's also a lone station in a place called Coalinga that links these two regions, and another up near Donner Summit on the way to Lake Tahoe.
Turn back the clock to late 2012 and you'll see a map with just six Tesla Superchargers in more or less the same places. At the time, we marveled at how these revolutionary quick-charge stations would enable us to drive our newfangled 2013 Tesla Model S all the way to Lake Tahoe and back. Think of it!
You can see where this is going. Today's Hydrogen Highway is eerily similar to those early days of the Tesla Supercharger Network, and that realization recently prompted Jay Kavanagh and me to concoct a friendly contest. It's the 2016 Toyota Mirai versus the 2016 Tesla Model X, hydrogen versus electricity, fuel cell versus batteries. It's the Hydrogen Highway versus the Tesla Supercharger network.
Place your bets.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on September 15, 2016
This morning I stopped at the hydrogen pump on Long Beach Blvd. to fill up and had a quick conversation with a representative of True Zero, the company that maintains the system. As I started the fill process, he came over to tell me that the pump was registering the wrong numbers on the screen, so he would have to take a minute to reset things.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on August 31, 2016
What's different is the price. Hydrogen is ridiculously expensive.
Or it's free!
Let me explain.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on August 26, 2016
In response to my last post, a commenter pointed out our 2016 Toyota Mirai lives in a bubble. That's absolutely true. The state of California is pushing hard for hydrogen development, so that's where the main action is.
The effort is being shaped by the California Fuel Cell Partnership (CaFCP), an organization that describes itself as "a collaboration of auto manufacturers, energy companies, fuel cell technology companies and government agencies." Their plan: develop and commercialize the technology with the goal of making it financially viable at some point down the road.
To do that it is necessary to have cars on the road and stations to refuel them. Many lessons must be learned. Everyone needs to see that it really can work. This has been going on in the background for some years with CaFCP member fleet vehicles and private pumps.
The Mirai and those that will soon follow represent the beginning of the next phase: private customer cars and public refueling stations.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on August 22, 2016
If you like futuristic touchscreen controls, you'll love the 2016 Toyota Mirai. It has them in spades, even where you don't want them. Thankfully, there are some redundant controls on the steering wheel that use actual buttons.
Are they enough to make up for the clumsy touchscreen on the center stack? Uh...sometimes.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on August 18, 2016
Our 2016 Toyota Mirai is a unique machine powered by an unfamiliar fuel — hydrogen. How far can it go? What is the consumption like? These are among the many questions we wanted to answer.
Let's get started.
by Kelly Hellwig, Managing Editor on July 5, 2016
I was the last one to make it out of the house this morning, and as I walked through the garage, I found my kid had already taken my spot in the passenger seat of our long-term 2016 Toyota Mirai.
Ed and I were dropping her off just a few miles down the road, so rather than ruin both our mornings by issuing a firm "Move your butt" command, I climbed into the backseat instead.
What I found was a pleasant surprise.
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on June 22, 2016
Heavy steering can be good. And heavy steering can be bad. In the case of the 2016 Toyota Mirai it is both. Let me explain...
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on June 20, 2016
Today I performed the easiest DIY maintenance job of all on our 2016 Toyota Mirai. It needed wiper fluid. What would have been as simple as swinging by the auto parts store, gas station or even grocery store was made more so because we still had a jug of the stuff in storage.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on June 14, 2016
Just to the left of the steering wheel in our our 2016 Toyota Mirai is a cluster of buttons. You might recognize the buttons on the outside (auto high beams, instrument panel brightness), but that one in the middle is unique to the Mirai. So what does it do, exactly?
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on June 10, 2016
Attention Air Products, Inc — get your act together.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on June 2, 2016
This is what you see on the dashboard when you power up our 2016 Toyota Mirai. It's a little startling to say the least. I can't help but think, "Is there really that much stuff that can go wrong?"
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on May 20, 2016
For a car that's only available in California at this point, the 2016 Toyota Mirai sure doesn't skimp on providing things that are heated. This panel at the bottom of the center stack includes controls for driver and front passenger seat heaters, the heated steering wheel and even heated windshield wipers.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on May 19, 2016
The 2016 Toyota Mirai is one of several new Toyota vehicles that comes with a Qi-compatible wireless phone charging pad. Different cabins locate the pad in different areas. In the Mirai's case, the charging pad is concealed inside the center armrest bin.
It sounds like a brilliant idea. Toss your phone on the pad, press the on button and *boom* your phone is charging without a cord.
But there is a catch, and it has led to complaints — especially among iPhone users. Your phone must have designed-in wireless charging capability or be fitted into a phone case or other adapter that is compatible. Apple iPhones up to and including the 6s do not have wireless charging capability, and some Toyota buyers were not made aware of the finer points of how the Qi charging pad works (or doesn't) before they bought their new car.
The iPhone problem can be rectified with a Qi-compatible phone case, which includes some newer Mophie backpack extended battery cases. Still, your case choices are limited.
But there is another way.
James Riswick, New & Used Car Editor on May 17, 2016
If you're going to pay nearly $60,000 for a Toyota, it had better not have the interior of a $30,000 Prius. Thankfully, our long-term 2016 Toyota Mirai does not. Indeed, its cabin is what I would call "Lexus Lite," wherein it's a clear step above other Toyotas yet not quite to the level of the company's luxury division.
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on May 5, 2016
The hydrogen fuel-cell powertrain in our long-term 2016 Toyota Mirai separates it from every other vehicle in our fleet. We have a 2016 Chevrolet Volt, a 2016 Tesla Model X and a 2016 Toyota Prius, but nothing on the market directly compares to the Mirai.
This unusual powertrain doesn't mean it has a driving character that's totally out of whack with what you expect in a modern car. In fact, it behaves pretty much like a pure EV. Read ahead to see if it performs just like one.
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on May 3, 2016
Everything about our long-term 2016 Toyota Mirai, from the hydrogen fuel cell powertrain to the overall design language, screams "IT'S THE FUTURE!" I think the fuel cell bit is very interesting and I'm happy Toyota is loaning us a Mirai for our long-term fleet. It's some of the other stuff that I'm not hot on.
Now, looks are subjective, and I'm subjected to the Mirai's hideous shape every time I walk by. Other people may not agree, and that's fine. Other people are wrong all the time.
Getting inside keeps you from looking at that fish face, but the weird, semi-futuristic design carries to the interior. The seats are blue and black leather, the center mounted digital gauges carry over nearly unchanged from the Prius, but what really irks me about the interior is the large, glossy-black infotainment and HVAC control panel.
by Reese Counts, Vehicle Testing Assistant on April 28, 2016
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on April 25, 2016
Our 2016 Toyota Mirai is a very complex machine. Easily the most technologically advanced car in our fleet. Does that mean it's a pain to refill its carbon fiber hydrogen tanks?
by Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief on April 21, 2016
In our complete review of the fuel-cell powered 2016 Toyota Mirai we wrote, "Because the car was designed from the start to be a fuel-cell vehicle, the bulky fuel tanks and battery don't intrude much into either cabin or trunk space. The Mirai's trunk isn't as large as that of most conventional cars its size, but it's still roomy enough to handle typical chores like grocery shopping or runs to Target."
Poppycock, I thought, as I opened the decklid to our newly received silver long-term Mirai. I took one look at the Mirai's trunk space, and thought, "There's no way I'm getting four wheels in there."
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on April 18, 2016
Our new 2016 Toyota Mirai is a very different kind of car. It's not only driven by an electric motor, it uses a hydrogen fuel cell to generate the electricity. Yet as revolutionary as it is from a technology standpoint, it's still very much a traditional sedan once you're behind the wheel.
by Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief on April 14, 2016
Santa Monica, Huntington Beach, Santa Monica, Playa del Rey, Burbank, Irvine, Costa Mesa and back to Santa Monica.
In just two days our new long-term 2016 Toyota Mirai and I covered this route together, which added up to 237.7 miles of driving.
Spend that many miles in that little amount of time behind the wheel and you learn a lot about a car. Here are five things I learned about the fuel-cell powered Mirai.
by Ed Hellwig, Executive Editor on April 11, 2016
There are so many aspects of our 2016 Toyota Mirai that are unusual. Thankfully, the trunk isn't one of them. Sure, it's not as big as it could be thanks to the twin tanks of compressed hydrogen hiding underneath the floor, but as you can see there's still more than enough room for a standard set of golf clubs.
by Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing on April 8, 2016
With sales starting late last year, the 2016 Toyota Mirai qualifies as the first fuel cell hybrid electric vehicle (FCHEV) available for public sale in North America. That's a big deal. The technology has been simmering in the background for a couple of decades, but Toyota has now reached the point where it feels comfortable selling it outright.